Client: San Francisco Arts Commission

Location: San Francisco, CA, United States

Completion date: 2006

Artwork budget: $75,000

Project Team

Structural Engineer

Robin Wendler

ZFA Structural Engineering


Piero Mussi

Artworks Foundry


24 bronze fantastical creatures sequestered amidst the greenery of the Sunnyside Conservatory evoke the mystery, beauty and biodiversity of nature. The park is a wonderful “Secret Garden” in the heart of San Francisco, a sanctuary for nature and the imagination. The Sunnyside Menagerie is a family of creatures evoking a primordial past as old as the palm trees or perhaps a strange new future; their habitat is this unique park in San Francisco; they can be found nowhere else in the world.

Each of the creatures in the menagerie sports an intricately carved skin. The sculptures are meant to be touched and interacted with by visitors of all ages. Indeed, the tactile and musical nature of the pieces can be especially significant for those who are blind or visually impaired. Positioned throughout the park, the sculptures will encourage visitors to truly explore their surroundings, to slow down and observe the delicate details of both the nature and artwork surrounding them in this unique and magical park.


The goal was to draw visitors into and through the park, experiencing a sense of wonder and discovery as they explore both the fantastical artwork and unique plantings that were gathered from throughout the world in this historic Victorian Conservatory. Inviting tactile engagement and interaction, the sculptures foster multi sensory exploration.


WOWHAUS worked closely with San Francisco Parks Department landscape architects and community stakeholders, gaining appreciation for the rare species of plants planted throughout the park. This engagement inspired our concept for the Menagerie, a series of creatures that offer moments of discovery throughout the park, nestled amidst the plantings. Careful integration with plantings and the architecture was essential; creatures can be discovered on the walls, amidst plantings, and on always; there is even a creature hanging from the eaves of the Conservatory.